First disabled arts champ named

First disabled arts champ named

The arts producer and strategist Andrew Miller has been appointed the first champion for the disabled in arts and culture.

New reports show how Brexit will hit the arts

New reports show how Brexit will hit the arts

English cultural organisations stand to lose £40m a year with Brexit, with 64% oif them currently working inside the European Union. The report from EUCLID, commissioned by Arts Council England, shows that between 2007 and 2016 the EU contributed £345m to England’s arts, museums and creative industries, or £40m a year.

Boost for Banbury Museum expansion

Councillors have agreed plans to double the size of Banbury’s museum in a £5m expansion scheme.

Creative Scotland apology over funding row

Creative Scotland apology over funding row

Archer promises review of funding process

Books by the Ocean

Books by the Ocean

A ‘crazy’ notion to bring a literary festival to Sri Lanka has proved an astounding success. Patrick Kelly reports

Cultural kids' programme reaching out

Cultural kids' programme reaching out

An Arts Council programme devised to help young children from deprived areas through involvement in the arts is working, according to an evaluation report published today.

Call for arts support in Northern Ireland

Call for arts support in Northern Ireland

Arts sector representatives and tourist companies in Northern Ireland have called on politicians to recognise the important role the arts plays in the economy of the region.

Music venues survey shows third ‘under threat’

Music venues survey shows third ‘under threat’

But Scotland embraces ‘Agent of Change’ principle.

Hockney is critics' choice

Hockney is critics' choice

David Hockney is to receive the Critics’ Circle Award for 2017, only the second time a visual artist has been selected for the prestigious prize in the Circle’s 105-year history.

Photojournalism's art gallery

Photojournalism's art gallery

A new website at last gives Fleet Street’s photographers a showcase for their work as art. Simon Tait spoke to its founders, Fleet Street veterans Alan Sparrow and Bret Painter-Spanyol

Museums' collecting frozen by funding cuts

Museums' collecting frozen by funding cuts

Britain’s museums are being increasingly excluded from the art market by cuts in funding, stifling the acquisitions that are the life force for public collections.

Creative industries on track to create 1m local jobs - Nesta

The creative industries are driving the UK’s economic growth, expanding twice as fast as any other sector, according to new research by Nesta.

BAFTA/BFI set harassment zero-tolerance rules

BAFTA/BFI set harassment zero-tolerance rules

Film and television organisations led by BAFT and the BFI have set a series of principles and guidelines to deal with bullying and sexual harassment in the industry.

Tax deal takes early Freuds back to Lakes

Tax deal takes early Freuds back to Lakes

Two really portraits by Lucian Freud have been left to the nation in lieu of tax and allocated to the Abbott Hall Gallery in Kendal.

Mary Beard to front Front Row

Mary Beard to front Front Row

The classics professor Mary Beard is to anchor the revamped television version of the arts review magazine Front Row when it returns in the spring.

17c mystery painting still baffling experts

17c mystery painting still baffling experts

This large picture of 1665 by an anonymous artist is one of the great mysteries of the art world, and is the centerpiece of a forthcoming major Norwich Castle Museum exhibition.

London goes Underground

London goes Underground

Photographs of some faces and places associated with the capital go on display at five London Tube stations this week.

British Art Fair goes to the Saatchi

British Art Fair goes to the Saatchi

Celebrating its 30th birthday this year, the 20/21 British Art Fair has changed ownership and will move to the Saatchi Gallery.

DEA BIRKETT Resetting ‘the norm’

Dea Birkett wants to be surprised as she celebrates the Edinburgh Fringe

It’s my 20th Edinburgh Fringe, but I’m not the only one celebrating. The Fringe is 70, and although it has “defying the norm” as this significant anniversary year’s slogan , the Fringe has become the norm. What happens in a venue here is more likely to be in the middle of its artistic journey rather than at the very be- ginning. I have already been to several shows that boast they have been running for over 20 years. Shakespeare for Breakfast is in its 26th Edinburgh run, as anarchic as ever and still the best way to start a Fringe day. This year the play that’s being butchered is Macbeth, and the killer-hard croissants aren’t only handed out to the audience on arrival (along with tar tea) but also feature in the wonderful reworking of the play’s weaponry.

Being a bit bonkers is a theme of this year’s festival, with clowns of all sorts and traditions enjoying a welcome comeback. Dutch band Werenband Slapstick don’t do world music (which is what their name means in Dutch) nor slapstick. They play on and play with 99 musical instruments, dance in boaters, mime and sing Scaramouche in German for no reason at all, in the tradition of musical clowns. They are wonderfully difficult to put into a single art form category – I’ve no idea where to find them in the 70th Fringe programme. What they do is, to UK audiences at least, new. But they’ve been musically mucking around together for 20 years in Holland. So why hasn’t such a wonderful mash up of the traditional never been seen here before? Perhaps because the fact it’s a fabulous mess counts against it. In programming, categories are crucial.

Comic clown Spencer Jones faces similar artistic hurdles, impossible to put in any one box. He’s not a standup – he’s far too physical for that. He’s not a clown – he relies on spoken language too much. He’s not physical theatre – he’s too silly. But he’s definitely brilliant, using nothing but a case of oranges and a vibrating plat- form for props. In his white tights and doctor’s white coat, he reminds us of a Shakespearean fool, as do his wise words mixed with mad gesturing. You’re unlikely to find a finer performance in a basement bar, fittingly called the Monkey Barrel.

Dr Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Women also refuses to be t into neatly anyone’s funding stream. Like a Ted- X talk with tampons (or without one, when you need one), show woman Marisa Carnesky and her ferocious female tribe create a manifesto for menstruation which includes academic lecture, lm, performance art and even hair hanging.

Thank goodness there are creations like this, which allow me to see all that in an hour. After a few days in Edinburgh, I’m already rather bored by shows that are easy to categorise. The significant dramas with a single middle-aged male actor shaking with indignant rage in a way he was taught to in drama school 25 years ago; the contemporary circus show which stretches to find meaning in a slow silk act or three people standing on each other’s shoulders, accompanied by a poignant play- list; the oh-so-audacious late night cabaret where a man dressed in pink saying “I’m gay” out loud is supposed to be shocking. This is the 70th anniversary, after all, and things should have moved on.

Then along comes Hot Brown Honey, from the same Australian production team that brought us Briefs. It’s unfair to categorise this show, but let’s call it lesbian Aboriginal cabaret, which probably puts it in a category of its own. Women of all shapes and sizes rattle and roar, shaking their ample bodies and shaking up the audience. More dildos than didgeridoos, it confounds what we expect from an indigenous Australian performance.

What I want at the Fringe is to be surprised. Let’s hear it for those who can’t fit into a category.

Dea Birkett is Ringmaster at Circus250 www.deabirkett.com www.circus250.org

 

 

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